If the terms of a lease agreement are violated, the landlord can seek eviction. Eviction is the removal of a tenant from leased property by the landlord, the requirements of which are governed by law. The term eviction is the most common term used but depending on the laws of the jurisdiction or locality, eviction may also be known as unlawful detainer, summary dispossess, summary possession, ejectment, forcible detainer, and repossession.
To begin the eviction process on a leased property, a landlord must give (serve) the tenant a lease eviction notice, usually a lease violation notice (for any violation) or pay rent or quit notice (for nonpayment of rent) prior to instituting legal proceedings.
If, after being served the eviction notice, the tenant does not cure the default in the required time, the landlord can proceed to court. The court will then serve the tenant with a notice of the proceeding allowing him/her an opportunity to dispute the landlord's claim(s). If the tenant does not respond to this notice, the court will issue a default judgment and proceed with the eviction process. However, if the tenant responds, the court will make a determination of the validity of the tenants arguments. Some defenses include withholding rent needed to make repairs, improper rent increase, no eviction notice served and/or health and safety code violations at the location. In the event the court concludes the tenant has a valid defense, a hearing or trial will be scheduled at which the tenant can produce evidence to support his/her claim.
At any point that the court decides in favor of the landlord, the eviction proceeds by a court order (eviction order). The order for eviction is served by the sheriff. The eviction is not complete until the time contained in the order expires. If the tenant has not moved out by that time the sheriff will remove his/her belongings. Only then can the landlord change the locks on the premises.
The eviction procedure can take as little as 20 days if executed properly, to a few months if the eviction proceeding results in a trial.
A properly constructed lease agreement is a key element in protecting leased property in the event of default by a tenant. A quality lease agreement can be the difference between getting stuck with a problem tenant or having a path of legal recourse. A quality lease agreement will contain up-to-date language allowing the shortest time to evict.